In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Monday, December 26, 2011

Chocolate Wine in the Book of Mormon?

Wicked King Noah the wine bibber
I think that some of my fascination in regards to the Book of Mormon began upon realizing there were numerous things that I read through multiple times that technically wouldn’t make sense happening in a Mesoamerican setting and somehow never seemed to set off any alarms to me.  Once I started hearing of a few of these and seeing how they actually do fit in with a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon I became “addicted” to this type of research, which I think is a perfect description in regards to this blog post

The Book of Mormon speaks of the use of wine in many instances, including in Mosiah when wicked King Noah built wine-presses to make wine in abundance and became a wine bibber and also his people (Mosiah 11:5).  Or in his son Limhi’s escape from the Lamanites when they paid their taxed tribute of wine in order for the Lamanite guards to become drunk allowing the people of Limhi to escape through a back route according to the plan of Gideon.  This use of paying tribute with wine was attempted many times including from the Lamanites to the Nephites without success according to Alma 55:30.

Now I have read the Book of Mormon more times than I have fingers and probably toes as well but for some reason it never struck me that it would be hard to produce wine in Mesoamerica due to the challenge of growing grapes or olives, but apparently this is the case and has been a key issue with the anti-Mormon crowd.  Dr. Michael Coe the famous Mesoamerican archeologist and anthropologist noted that in the Book of Mormon there was no mention of cacao or chocolate which raised a flag because of its known heavy use in ancient Mesoamerica.  At a first glance Dr. Coe would be right but when we actually take the time dig into the text we can see that this isn’t actually the case. 

Ripe cacao tree
In a somewhat recent study done by Cornell professor of anthropology John Henderson and his colleagues they found traces of caffeine and theobromine, an alkaloid similar to caffeine but specific to cacao, in 11 shards dated to 1100 B.C.  According to Patrick McGovern Scientific Director of Biomolecular Archeology at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia:
“We, and by we I’m also including fellow-scientist Jeff Hurst at Hershey Chocolate, analyzed pottery sherds belonging to long-necked jars. Such vessels from Honduras are among some of the earliest pottery yet found anywhere in Mesoamerica, dating back to around 1400 B.C. They preceded the first urban communities of the Olmecs, centered on the Gulf Coast of what are now Mexico’s Veracruz and Tabasco provinces.

Vessels of the long-necked jar type from Puerto Escondido tested positive for theobromine, which is the fingerprint compound for cacao since the compound only occurs in chocolate fruit and beans in Mesoamerica. The style of the vessel was another give-away or advertisement of its contents–it had the shape and characteristic ridges and indentations of the cacao fruit. What we propose, based on the chemical and archaeological evidence, is that the jar was once filled with a fermented chocolate beverage made from ripe chocolate fruit.”

drawing of ancient  cacao-wine
vessel used to add froth
The use of this cacao based chocolate wine was common in the Olmec and Mayan times and continued even to the Aztecs who knew this formula as the drink of the Gods.  As pointed out by Jeff Lindsay the Friar Diego de Landa when writing about his time in Mesoamerica during the conquest stated:

“The Indians are very dissolute in drinking and becoming intoxicated, and many ills follow their excesses this way. . . . Their wine they make of honey and water and the root of a certain tree they grow for the purpose. . . .”

Later McGovern noted:
“In later Mesoamerica, the Mayans and then the Aztecs increasingly turned to the beans, rather than the fruit, to make their cacao beverage. They also mixed in lots of additives–honey, chilis of all kinds, variously scented flowers, and achiote or annatto (Bixa orellana) which colors the beverage an intense red in keeping with its association with human sacrifice. If a victim atop one of the pyramids faltered, he was given a gourd of chocolate, mixed with blood which had been caked on the obsidian blades of earlier sacrifices.”

So as we can see wine was found in abundance throughout the history of Mesoamerica including during the same time periods mentioned during the Book of Mormon so the mentioning of it would make complete sense and also alleviate the question why chocolate or cacao was not mentioned.  So once again another criticism about the Book of Mormon only stands to solidify it’s authenticity.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

LDS Prospective of the Hopi Nakwach and the True Pahana or Lost White Brother

Awanu (horned serpent) petroglyph
The true Pahana (or Bahana) is the Lost White Brother of the Hopi. Most versions have it that the Pahana or Elder Brother left for the east at the time that the Hopi entered the Fourth World and began their migrations. However, the Hopi say that he will return again and at his coming the wicked will be destroyed and a new age of peace, the Fifth World, will be ushered into the world.  He will bring with him a missing section of a sacred Hopi stone in the possession of the Fire Clan, and that he will come wearing red.Traditionally, Hopis are buried facing eastward in expectation of the Pahana who will come from that direction.  For more information on the Hopi stone see:


The legend of the Pahana seems intimately connected with the Aztec story of Quetzalcoatl, and other legends of Central America. This similarity is furthered by the liberal representation of Awanyu, the horned or plumed serpent, in Hopi and other Puebloan art. This figure bears a striking resemblance to figures of Quetzacoatl, the feathered serpent, in Mexico. In the early 16th century, both the Hopis and the Aztecs believed that the coming of the Spanish conquistadors was the return of this lost white prophet. Unlike the Aztecs, upon first contact the Hopi put the Spanish through a series of tests in order to determine their divinity, and having failed, the Spanish were sent away from the Hopi mesas.

One account has it that the Hopi realized that the Spanish were not the Pahana based upon the destruction of a Hopi town by the Spanish. Thus when the Spanish arrived at the village of Awatovi, they drew a line of cornmeal as a sign for the Spanish not to enter the village, but this was ignored. While some Hopi wanted to fight the invaders, it was decided to try a peaceful approach in the hope that the Spanish would eventually leave. However, Spanish accounts record a short skirmish at Awatovi before the Hopis capitulated. Frank Waters records a Hopi tradition that the Spanish did ignore a cornmeal line drawn by the Hopis and a short battle followed.

Nakwach Sacred Hand Clasp
Tovar [the leader of the Spanish] and his men were conducted to Oraibi. They were met by all the clan chiefs at Tawtoma, as prescribed by prophecy, where four lines of sacred meal were drawn. The Bear Clan leader stepped up to the barrier and extended his hand, palm up, to the leader of the white men. If he was indeed the true Pahana, the Hopis knew he would extend his own hand, palm down, and clasp the Bear Clan leader's hand to form the nakwach, the ancient symbol of brotherhood (According to Hopi legend this sacred handshake will also be required to enter into the fifth world).  Tovar instead curtly commanded one of his men to drop a gift into the Bear chief's hand, believing that the Indian wanted a present of some kind. Instantly all the Hopi chiefs knew that Pahana had forgotten the ancient agreement made between their peoples at the time of their separation. Nevertheless, the Spaniards were escorted up to Oraibi, fed and quartered, and the agreement explained to them. It was understood that when the two were finally reconciled, each would correct the other's laws and faults; they would live side by side and share in common all the riches of the land and join their faiths in one religion that would establish the truth of life in a spirit of universal brotherhood. The Spaniards did not understand, and having found no gold, they soon departed.

Hugh Nibley interpreted this story in his own way:

Jesus Christ
In 1540 when Pedro de Tovar came up to Bear Chief, who was standing to greet him on the rise at Old Oraibi, the chief reached out his hand to establish the visitor’s identity by offering him the sacred handclasp, the nachwach-was he really the promised White Brother? Naturally, the Spaniard, who had come looking for gold and nothing else, thought he was asking for money and placed a gold coin in his hand. Have you any signs or tokens? asked the chief. Yes, I have money, replied the visitor. From that moment the Hopis knew it was not the one they were looking for, and to this day they have never been converted to Christianity. (Hugh Nibley. Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints. 98-99)

From what we have read above it seems to stand as evidence that the Hopi awaiting the return of the lost white brother would be in relation to the second coming of Jesus Christ and the use of the Nakwach hand clasp has a direct relation in purpose to some of the sacred signs that are found in the LDS temple ceremony.  This would also confirm that they may have obtained this knowledge as direct descendents of the People of Ammon or Nephite/Lamanite relatives of whom I have spoken of extensively in previous posts. This also attests to the ancient origin of the LDS temple ceremony. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Zeno's Allegory of the Olive Tree serves as added evidence and insight!

Olive tree and vineyard
This post is focused on my recent reading of Jacob 5, Zenos's allegory of the olive tree.  This is the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon.  In this chapter an ancient Isrealite prophet named Zenos likens the history of  Israel to an olive tree and vineyard.  Zenos's allegory goes into great detail regarding the grafting, dunging, digging about and pruning process  involved in the olive tree culture thus proving that whoever Zenos was he had a great understanding of horticulture and botanical knowledge especially involving the olive tree and vineyard.

  Many of the ancient practices are still used today and wouldn't have been common knowledge in Joseph Smith's day especially in the upstate New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont area.  As pointed out by Jeff Lindsay in his blog there is an amazing comparison in Brant Gardners Multidimensional Commentary for Jacob 5 and Romans 11 which is commonly referred to when compared by those who do not accept the Book of Mormon but anyone who has taken the time to read them both will not only realize that Paul's comparison is the inferior of the two but  should also realize that Paul may actually be getting his information from the same source as Jacob...the one and only Zenos.

 Jeff also quotes from John Gee and Daniel C. Peterson,'s "Graft and Corruption: On Olives and Olive Culture in the Pre-Modern Mediterranean," in The Allegory of the Olive Tree. Peterson and Gee state that it is almost inconceivable to state that Joseph Smith would have had access to the information needed to put together Jacob 5.  The knowledge of olive horticulture was basically un-had in upstate New York.  They point out that in order for Smith to have obtained that knowledge in 1829 he would have needed to have had access to the writings of four classical authors and would have need to have read all four works because individually they do not cover all the knowledge needed to have composed such a work.  These authors and there works were

1.Cato, De Agri Cultura 2. Varro, Rerum Rusticarum 3. heophrastus, Historia Plantarum 4. Columella, Rei Rusticae.  This is what Peterson and Gee stated about the likely hood of Joseph having access to these writings:

Josesph Smith jr.
"Yet Joseph Smith probably did not have access to these works. And even if he had, he could not read Latin and Greek in 1829. Theophrastus's Historia Plantarum first published in English in 1916, [Theophrastus, Enquiry into Plants, trans. Arthur Hort (London: Heinemann, 1916)] and no part of his De Causis Plantarum was available in English until 1927 [Robert E. Dengler, ... Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1927]. While English translations of Cato, Varro, and Columella were available to the British in 1803, 1800, and 1745 respectively [Thomas Owen, M. Porcius Cato concerning Agriculture (London: White, 1803), ...], it is hardly likely that they were widely circulated in rural New York and Pennsylvania. Joseph Smith could have known nothing about olives from personal experience, as they do not grow in Vermont and New York. Can it reasonably be supposed that Joseph simply guessed right on so many details? And even if he somehow managed to get the details from classical authors, how did he know to put it into the proper Hebrew narrative form?"

Gee and Peterson then go on to point out the proper Hebrew narrative which I highly recommend reading.  In my eyes the wonderful readings of Jacob chapter 5 stand as one of the most powerful testimonies for the future of Israel and "gentile" nations as well but also as some of the most compelling evidence for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and for the prophet Joseph Smith.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Native games of chivalry present in the Book of Mormon

Ammon at the waters of Sebus
With the numerous evidences and insights that have come to light regarding the practices of the indigenous cultures of Mesoamerica and Southwest United States and the similarities of those practiced in the Book of Mormon it makes one wonder how leading archeologists, and anthropologists have failed to give credit where credit is due or at least take the seriousness of what the Book of Mormon claims to be with sincerity. I say this in part because as I have been studying the Book of Mormon in preparation for this next years gospel doctrine class and I have been accompanying my studies with Hugh Nibley’s teachings of the Book of Mormon. It seems to me that every time I listen to his lectures he continues to amaze me with more of these correlations.

While reviewing one of my (and most 9 year old boys) favorite stories in the Book of Mormon, that of Ammon at the waters of Sebus cutting off the arms of the Lamanites who were gathered to scatter the flocks belonging to the king being watched by Ammon and some of the kings other servants, I couldn’t help but to ponder on the oddities of this story. Especially how it was common practice for Lamanites to scatter the kings’ flocks and then feel comfortable in the presence of the kings courtyard days later. We know this was common practice because the servants feared for their very lives because of their knowledge of what had happened to other servants of the past who had been sacrificed for allowing the exact same practice to transpire while on their clocks.

Percy Lomahquahu explaining the holes
along the cliff edge of ancient Pivanhonkiapi
Nibley likened this practice of sacrifice during ceremonial games of chivalry to many examples throughout
history. His parallels varied in “standard Nibley fashion” from Homeric duels like David and Goliath to modern day tag team wrestling. I choose to focus my attention to those examples that specifically took place mainly in areas considered to be Book of Mormon lands. These examples would include the infamous Mayan games played on the ball courts leading to a sacrifice of either one key player or worse case scenario a whole team. Other ceremonial games of death included those that have since been removed from practice by the modern day Pueblo including the Hopi wa-wa ceremony spoken of by Frank Waters in his book called “Book of the Hopi” but due to lack of space I’ll use Dr. Nibley’s description:

“Equally horrendous was the Wa-Wa rite of the Hopis and some of the other pueblos. It is still celebrated in Quatemala at the spring equinox. There is a tall pole, and they swing [people] around it head down. When the Hopis did it, up until 1900, the pole protruded over the edge of the mesa and the drop was 300–400 feet. The pole was cut half-way through and was supposed to break. Human sacrifice was expected, and that satisfied the necessary killing for the year.”

To this day although the ceremony itself is no longer practiced by the Hopi there are still holes in the ground where the tall poles used to be inserted. As noted by Nibley in Guatemala there is a similar tradition which no longer involves death or sacrifice but is known as Palo Volador. In Claire Boobbyer’s “Guatemala handbook: the travel guide” she states,

The Palo Volador
The only pre-Columbian dances are Palo Volador and the Rabinal Achi, which is a drama-dance. The Palo Volador originates from the k’iche’ Maya. Its origins stem from the pole being seen as the centre of the world. A pole is erected and two ropes that are long enough to reach the ground are fixed to the top. The aim is for two men to attach themselves to the rope and swing out from the top- as the rope unwinds the men swing further and further out until they reach the ground. This is performed in Chichicastenango, Cubulco, San Cristobal Verapaz and Joyabaj.

Nibley also noted that one way we as readers could tell that the game being played at Sebus was a ceremonial practice was because the Lamanites drew their clubs or as Nibley stated “their ceremonial clubs” rather than using swords except for the leader who upon seeing enough damage decided to draw his sword and was actually killed by Ammon. In any event it seems highly unlikely that Joseph Smith Jr. would have known of the use of these “Games of Chivalry” used to gain some sort of status through pillage or sacrifice, especially since sacrifice among the Maya was completely unheard of until the past 50 years when archeologists and come to the conclusion that sacrifice and war were both very integral parts of Mesoamerican society. So once again we see that the Book of Mormon stands the test of time and is actually a record of the ancient inhabitants of these American lands and not a mere fictional book made from the figments of Joseph’s imagination.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Is La Venta's Stela 3 actually depicting the initial meeting of the Mulekites and Olmecs/Jaredites?

Stela 3
I consider myself a student of the standard works (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price) but with greater emphasis on the Book of Mormon and as such I admit that I am late to John L. Sorenson’s “An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon”. Although through my previous reading and research I consider myself to be very familiar with Book of Mormon evidences and geography theories but I  still decided to get a copy of the book and give it a “good reading”. Even though I have not finished it I am enjoying it and have stumbled across many evidences that this book seems to give additional information on. One of the evidences claimed by Sorenson was the infamous Stela 3 of La Venta. This Stela is thought to date about 600 B.C. or later, basically during the end of the Olmec/Jaredite timeframe and the beginning of the Maya/Nephite timeframe. The issue surrounding the Stela is that it seems to show to two people meeting and one of them being a prominent bearded man which would be a rarity for the indigenous culture of Mesoamerican regions. The bearded figure is commonly referred to as the “Uncle Sam” figure. 

In 1946, the famous "Uncle Sam" figure on Stela 3 at La Venta, was described by Mexican archaeologist Miguel Covarrubias as a "fully bearded man with an enormous aquiline nose. . ., a personage with surprisingly pronounced Semitic features" (Covarrubias 1946: 90). Two decades later, art historian Tatiana Proskouriakoff of the Carnegie Institution of Washington referred to the same bearded figure on Stela 3 as a "visitor" and with related low relief carvings as representing a racially distinct group of "strangers." These foreigners ultimately gained ascendancy over another stocky racial type on carvings. These La Venta carvings are also described as "credibly realistic portraits and descriptions of historic scenes," from a highly developed religious society. (Proskouriakoff 1968: 121-122)

"Uncle Sam" Bearded
Figure (Stela 3)
If indeed the figure on the right is a “Semitic” figure or represented a “Semitic” person who could it have been? Those familiar with the Book of Mormon instantly think of Lehi and his party as being people of Semitic features who could be represented in the formal meeting taking place in the Stela. Dr. Sorenson has suggested that this may actually be the other group of people of a Semitic background spoken of in the Book of Mormon, known as the Mulekites, this is partially because La Venta as a location would suffice as an Olmec Jaredite territory. There are multiple theories for what city La Venta would have been called anciently such as the City of Mulek or the City of Lib but either way the location would suffice for a place where the story of the Mulekites meeting the Jaredites being inscribed on a large relief Stela would geographically make sense. This is what Dr. Sorenson had to say about the location of La Venta and Stela 3:

“A particularly interesting case of such external evidence involves a scene on a monument located at an archaeological site that I consider to be the prime candidate for the city of Mulek. As explained elsewhere, the site of La Venta in southern Mexico qualifies remarkably well as the city of Mulek. It was one of the great centers of Olmec civilization, whose distribution and dates remind us of Jaredite society. Stela 3 at La Venta is a basalt slab fourteen feet high and weighing fifty tons. It is thought to date to about 600 B.C., or a little later, at or just after the late Olmec (Jaredite?) inhabitants abandoned the site.
 Carved on the stone is a scene in which a person of obvious high social status, whose facial features look like those shown in some earlier Olmec art, confronts a prominent man who appears to a number of (non-Mormon) art historians like a Jew. This scene has been interpreted by archaeologists as a formal encounter between leaders of different ethnic groups. For instance, the late expert on Mesoamerican art, Tatiana Proskouriakoff, considered that Stela 3 shows "two racially distinct groups of people" and that "the group of the [Jewish-looking] bearded stranger ultimately gained ascendency." She concluded, thus, that "the culture of La Venta [thereafter] contained a strong foreign component." Latter-day Saints may wonder whether Mulek or some other person in his party might even be represented on Stela 3, considering the date and the location at a site very suitable to have been the "city of Mulek." At the least we see that ethnic and cultural variety existed in Mesoamerica where and when we would expect evidence of Mulek's group to show up.” 

So whether La Venta was the Ancient City of Lib or Mulek is still up for schoolyard debate but we still seem to have a very interesting piece of what may be considered Book of Mormon evidence in the scene depicted on Stela 3 and this seems to be somewhat confirmed by non-LDS art historians and archeologists whether they meant to or not.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Flame Ft V. Rose - Surrender - 2011 [ @ClearSightMusic @FLAME314 @Vrosem...

I love this song and think that alot of these Christian Hip-Hop artists are really doing a good thing when they dedicate their time and talents into making positive songs like this. I know that Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) like myself usually avoid the "cross" symbol because we prefer to focus on the fact that not only did he die for us but he more importantly was raised for us and overcame death. I know that main stream Christianity use the cross quite often and having served my mission among the Bible Belt. I don't wear one but I understand what it means to a main stream Christian so I don't take offense to it by any means either so I would hope that any Mormons who follow my blog and see me posting these hip-hop videos that do display these type of mainstream Christian symbols would not take offense to it either.

Ancient history of Mexico tapestry adds even more authenticity to the Book of Mormon

Giron-Gagal Tapestry
There is a tapestry in the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City that may in fact show some of the migrations of the seven tribes that make up the Nephites and Lamanites. I first came across this document when it was presented in Dr. Jerry Ainsworth's book "The Life and Travels of Mormon and Moroni". If any readers of my blog have not noticed yet I quote this book extensively and recommend it to anyone who is truly interested in learning more about the people and cultures and evidences of the Book of Mormon. On the tapestry in question, as noted by Ainsworth it shows a group of people coming out of the ocean in what appears to be a womb. Anyone familiar with any Native American traditional stories will know that the womb is very common among traditional stories representing the "Mother Culture".

Father Lehi and the Liahona
This tapestry appears to confirm Lehi's landing. The group of people exiting the womb appear to be following a leader who is holding a round object in front of them. The Quiche name for the object in the tapestry is the "Giron-Gagal" which means, "compass" or "director". As Dr. Ainsworth notes the Quiche Maya believe that whoever had the Giron-Gagal could not be defeated in battle because they had the blessings of the Gods. This is very similar to the Biblical story of the Ark of the Covenant that was carried with the Israelites to battle as a sign of bringing the God of Israel along with them to war in which they could not be defeated either. In the Book of Mormon father Lehi was also lead by a round curious object similar to a compass called the Liahona. The Liahona was more than just a compass because it lead according to the faith of those who had it.

The tapestry also shows a group of nine people on turtles leading the group as well. This may represent a few things but I tend to lean towards the real mother group of the ancestors of those who live in Mesoamerica. This would include the Maya and the Olmec civilizations. The group could actually represent the barges of the Jaredites whom many LDS scholars associate with the Olmec civilization. Not that the Jaredites are the Olmecs but that the Olmecs associated with the Jaredites or that the Jaredites may have been part of the Olmec civilization. This same thought process goes for the Nephite and Lamanite civilizations and the Maya. The Nephites and Lamanites are not the Maya but definitely associated with each other and more than likely they were part of the Mayan civilization. Anyway that it is looked upon one cannot ignore the uncanny resemblance of the history told in the tapestry and that of the Book of Mormon.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ancient Mayan Markets and Highways another Bullseye for the Book of Mormon

 student collects soil samples at ancient bustling market site

I've been spending every spare second I've had recently reading my copy of John Sorenson's "An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon". Although this book has been in circulation for years it is still the best place to turn for Book of Mormon archaeology in my eyes. I have been re-reading many of his previous articles at the Maxwell Institute and continue to find insights that for some reason have slipped by me. The most recent piece of evidence and insight that caught my attention was the mention in Helaman 7:10 of both "highways" and "markets". It states:

"And behold it came to pass that it was upon a tower, which was in the garden of Nephi which was by the highway which lead to the chief market, which was in the city of Zarahemla; therefore, Nephi had bowed himself upon the tower which was in his garden, which tower was also near unto the garden gate by which led the highway."

As Sorenson notes, "No one knowledgeable of Pre-Columbian Mexico has had any doubt that markets were found in all sizable settlements. Cortez and his followers were amazed by the market in Tlatelolco in the valley of Mexico, by its diversity of goods, and by the complexity of its organization. Yet until recently, only little attention has been given to the fact that a number of these cities had multiple markets. It has been noted of markets in Monte Alban, Teotihuacan, El Tajin and the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. Apparently Zarahemla was no different."

Avenue of the Dead Teotihuacan
One of the most notable highways that extend to the late pre classic period of the Mayan influence is found in Teotihuacan. It is commonly known as the "avenue of the dead". This city had one of the greatest influences on almost all major Maya cities. As I have noted in older posts there are many interesting points in the city of Teotihuacan that add insights and evidences to what we know of the ancient Nephite and Lamanite cultures. 

Both the markets and highways were once thought of as obvious errors of what Joseph Smith would have known about the ancient inhabitants of America when the Book of Mormon was brought to light. This can only be seen as evidence of its authenticity as everything it proclaims itself to be, especially an ancient record written by the prophets of old on the American continent. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Subtle hints of possible bondage for Nephi/Lehi while traveling in the wilderness

Nephi/Lehi and family traveling in the wilderness

So I recently happened upon an interesting article on the Neal A. Maxwell Institute website called, "A Case For Lehi's Bondage in Arabia" by S. Kent Brown.  In this article he shares points that make a case for Lehi and his family (including Ishmael's family) being possibly subject to the service of tribesmen while making their journey in the wilderness.  This could be something as simple as being employed by a specific tribe to being basically slaves to a tribe.  A timeline of Lehi's travels needs to be taken into consideration for a better understanding as to why this may be so.  If Lehi's family took 8 years to travel from Jerusalem to what they considered "the land of Bountiful" on the Arabian coast probably somewhere in Yemen or Oman (Wadi Sayq).  At most two of those years were taken in the expedition from Jerusalem to Nahom (probably less), I say this because as S. Kent Brown points out there are caravan traders nowdays who can preform this feet in a matter of months.  

Heading eastward from Nahom towards present day Wadi Sayq takes one through territory controlled by warring tribes.  Dr. Brown shows that this has been the way it has been for the last 2000 years.  "Its been a place of inhospitable tribes and slave trafficking. Modern explorers have learned about the hazards of crossing from one tribal area into another.  There is a system known as "rafiq" It means that travelers must be accompanied by a member of a tribe while they are moving throught the tribes territiory.  This is the only way for guarenteed saftey.  This also means bargaining with tribal leaders for safe passage and paying the agreed price for such protection and other services.  However, when travelers reach the tribe's boundary, they have to negotiate with the leaders of the next tribe, again paying an agreed price."

According to S. Kent Brown there are keys or subtle hints that can be found in the Book of Mormon that could lead one to believe or at least speculate that Lehi and his family could have spent a portion of their time while traveling from Nahom to what they considered Bountiful in “bondage” or “captivity”. As stated by Brown,

Arabian Map of Lehi's Travels
“This endlessly nettlesome situation, referred to elsewhere in the Book of Mormon seems to lie behind language about the trek such as “enemies” (Omni1:6; Alma9:10), “battle” and “bondage” (Alma 9:22), and being “smitten with …sore afflictions” (Mosiah1:17). If, of the eight years in the wilderness, only two had passed when the party reached Nahom, do the records themselves say that the party spent a disproportionate amount of time crossing the last 700 miles from Nahom, where they began to “travel nearly eastward” until they reached “the sea” (1 Nephi 17:1,5)?

The first key leading to this conclusion is in regards to Nephi’s use of the phrase, “to sojourn”. He stated that “we did travel nearly eastward…and wade through much affliction... [God] did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness. And we did sojourn for the space of …eight years in the wilderness.” Kent points out that the Bible term to sojourn usually refers to a servile relationship. This in the worst case scenario could be a slave and owner or best case scenario could be an employer and employee relationship. The fact that Nephi modeled his story on the Israelite slaves in Egypt is also a point of consideration. Dr. Brown also noted the phrases used in 1 Nephi 17 when Nephi stated, “we did…wade through much affliction”; “our women did bear children in the wilderness”; “our women have toiled, being big with child”; “it would have been better that [our women] had died” and posed the question of, “Do undocumented challenges lie within these lines?” To me this does bring up the question why did it take Lehi’s family (with Ishmael’s family and any others) 6 years to cross something that most Bedouin tribes can cover in a matter of months?

The next key is when Lehi is blessing his youngest son Joseph. When referring to his families sojourn in the wilderness he describes it as “the wilderness of mine affliction” and “the days of my greatest sorrow” (2 Nephi 3:1). As pointed out by Hugh Nibley, Lehi was more than likely a very prosperous trader and knew the life of traveling in a caravan and the dangers associated with being a trader in the desert. Although his family does complain about his visions they never complain about his ability to survive in the wilderness and this seems to be because it may have been his profession. So traveling through the wilderness shouldn’t have been the cause of his “greatest sorrow”. So we ask the question, was there more to Lehi’s sojourn in the wilderness that caused this sorrow? It seems to be the case. As a matter of fact the case seems to be supported when compared to the language used by Lehi when speaking to his children and grandchildren before his death. He uses language that recalls slavery such as “shake off the awful chains” by which they “are carried away captive,” being “led according to the …captivity of the devil”2 Nephi 1:13, 18).

Although Dr. Brown points to a few other keys some of the remaining keys leading to this speculative conclusion include the words of King Benjamin (as abridged by Mormon) both of whom had the full record of the account at their dispose. Both of whom were very familiar with the story. It is subtle hints such as in Mosiah 1:17 when in Mormons words, the party “did not… progress in their journey, but were driven back…and …were smitten with famine and sore afflictions”. These were things that we know did happen in the first two years of their mission but upon reaching Nahom there is no more mention of them being “driven back” and “not progressing” other than when Nephi broke his bow but they were not driven back though. Upon heading east from Nahom they would have found themselves in a more hostile territory with lack of water, lack of population, and little or no law. So the use of phrases such as “driven back” and speaking of “famine and sore afflictions” would fit right into a “sojourn” or “bondage of necessity” in these hostile lands.

The last key that I will touch on is noted in Alma 36 by Alma the younger (who also had access to the records and the full account of Nephi and Lehi) who compared a parallelism between “our fathers of Jerusalem” speaking of Lehi’s generation and that of “our fathers of Egypt” speaking of the Hebrew slaves and he states that the Lord has basically delivered them both out of bondage and captivity from time to time even down to this present day. (Alma 36:28, 29) Alma is speaking about both Lehi’s generation and the history of his people all the way to Alma the younger so the bondage in this statement may be questionable but parallelism is unquestionable.

When we look at the evidence being presented it should be obvious that something does not add up. There had to be something that delayed Lehi and Nephi’s group and caused them to take 6 plus years to cover 700 miles. Even when taking into consideration that they would have probably planted some crops and had to farm the territory to survive (if possible in this area) it still shouldn’t have taken more than two to three years. With that knowledge Dr. S. Kent Brown’s theory does make sense and would add clarity. Unfortunately we will have to put this in our speculation file and wait for further revelation or for the other two thirds of the plates to be translated to know for sure.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fortifications, Watchtowers and City/State Leadership found in Mayan Civilization and Book of Mormon

Rock Wall covered in vegetation used as a border
marker built by ancient Mayans

For those of you who know me you know that I have a fascination with archaeology and anthropology especially in correlation with Book of Mormon lands. So when I stumbled across an article by Zach Zorich entitled, “Defending a Jungle Kingdom” on I was quite impressed with some of the recent findings that have taken place on the Mexico/Guatemala border.

In the mountainous rainforest’s of Mexico and Guatemala the Usumacinta River forms a natural border. This border was crisscrossed by constantly moving borders and boundries made by different Mayan kings used to mark their kingdom territory. Although these borders were constantly expanding and decreasing due to the size of a kingdoms influence there is still very little evidence of these actual kingdom borders. Little was known until a recent discovery of a series of stone walls about three to six feet tall. These walls extend the better part of a four mile stretch through the rainforest separating the kingdoms of Yaxchilan and Piedras Negras and were used to protect Yaxchilan’s northern border. The team of researchers were able to better understand what they were looking at with the help of the Guatemalan park guides who actually used the same walls when then themselves were participating in the Guatemalan civil war that took place in the 80’s and 90’s (I can almost hear Hugh Nibley asking, then have we progressed at all in the past 1300 years?).I

n the article it states, “The rough terrain limits the routes that a person can easily walk through the area. Once the archaeologists knew what they were looking for, finding the walls became easy. Just outside of Tecolote, an ancient town 10 miles north of Yaxchilan, every path seems to lead to a stone wall between two hills. Evidence of watchtowers on top of the hills indicates that soldiers had a place from which to watch for approaching enemies. “They are not building one super-wall. They are building little walls between all these little hills that they can control very easily,” says Charles Golden of Brandeis University who is one of the research team who came to the region in 2003, “It creates an easy funnel. They can catch anyone going south or north through the valleys.” The walls themselves would block the path of the enemy’s advance. “It’s a natural control point”.

The use of watchtowers in Mayan warfare immediately triggers a knee jerk reaction to the use of these watchtowers in the Book of Mormon. For instance in Mosiah 19: when Gideon is about to slay the fleeing wicked King Noah who flees to the top of the tower where King Noah sees the Lamanites withing the borders of the land of Shemlon. Or in Alma 46:36 where Captain Moroni causes that the Title of Liberty be hoisted on top of every tower in the land. Now whether these towers be Mesoamerican type of pyramid temples or watchtower fortresses both would fit very nicely in a Mesoamerican setting.

Watchtower/Fortress built along Maya border fortifications
Also noted in the article it state, “Near the walls, the team has documented a series of these settlements: Chicozapote, La Pasadita, Tecolote, and El Tunel. The warriors who defended the border probably lived in these settlements with their families. The settlements were ruled by sajals, who were counselors to the king, administrators, and war leaders responsible for defending the border and leading attacks against the kingdom’s enemies.”These sajal’s or administrators to the king also fit very nicely into the Book of Mormon setting especially when we look at the story of Ammon and Lamoni. Lamoni being king in the land of Ishmael and upon his conversion helped Ammon to go to the land of Manti to free his brethren only to run into Lamoni’s father who was king over all the land. Here we see kind of a city/state relationship where Lamoni’s father is the king over all the state while Lamoni is king over the city or land of Ishmael.

Although there have been ancient fortress fortifications found in the new world and the city/state kingship is nothing new I think that the more these types of evidences surface the better our understanding of the Mayan civilization will become and the more correlations we will be able to see to those of the Book of Mormon.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Biblical social networking common at water wells, also a practice common among the Hopi

In biblical times there are many stories who's background settings take place at the local watering well.  Many of these wells in times past would be covered with a cement cover that usually took more than one person to remove.  This stopped the sun from causing too much water from evaporating.  This alone caused the first person at the water well to have to wait for someone else to show up in order to help remove the top before obtaining water.  This was usually done by men so many times there could be a small gathering of people before obtaining water could even start.  The practice of socializing at the well was very common and many of the classic bible stories take place there.  Some of these are the story of Rebecca (Gen. 24:1-27) and the story of Rachel(Gen. 29:1-14) or in the New Testament the story of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42).  It was common practice for the woman to be the one fetching water from the well.

This old world practice was also known to have a new world setting as well.  One in particular was found among he Hopi women.  It was common practice for Hopi women to climb down the mesa in order to obtain water from their local watering hole. These watering holes made for a place of social gatherings for many Hopi women, young and old.  As has been noted by Hugh Nibley not only do the pueblos that make up the Hopi villages look like something right out of Old Jerusalem, but many of the Hopi traditional practices seem to be microcosms of Biblical practices. 
The Hopi society is a matriarchal society, the land
that is worked by the man actually belongs to the woman.  The home is usually worked by the woman and it also belongs to the woman as well.  So is it any surprise that so many Old Testament, Law of Moses type practices would be found among the Hopi?  We know that the Law of Moses was observed and followed in the Book of Mormon, and there are many references to it in the Book of Mormon but one in particular that stands out to me is Abinadi's trial by the priests of wicked king Noah (Mosiah 12).  The Book of Mormon stands as a testament that the natives of America (North, Central, and Southern) did in fact have the Law of Moses and even more important, they were visited by none other that Christ himself after he had truly fulfilled that law.  This is why there are many remnants of Biblical practices found among the native populations of the Americas.   

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Che Guevara, Guerrilla Warfare and the Book of Mormon!

Daniel C. Peterson

So I finished the Book of Mormon again the other day.  I am the type of reader where I love to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover and have done it countless times.  Of course I learn something new each and everytime that I read it.  Something that really stuck out this time was the sorry state in which the Lamanites and even more so the Nephites descended too and that later brought about their demise.  Their constant need for warfare and bloodshed never ceases to amaze me.  One of the recent articles that I read and later listened to on youtube was about guerrilla warfare in the Book of Mormon by Daniel C. Peterson.  In his article he talks about how the description of warfare in the Book of Mormon more directly when dealing with the Gadianton Robbers is best described in what we nowdays know as guerrilla warfare.  He then goes on to point out that this method of warfare is something that Joseph Smith jr. wouldn't have been familiar with when compared to warfare in his own day.

In comparing the warfare in the Book of Mormon with modern guerrilla warfare Dr. Peterson notes the similarities between General Vo Nguyen Giap, Ernesto Che Guevara, and Mao Tsetung's use of guerrilla warfare to that of the Gadianton Robbers.  As stated by Dr. Peterson these three are arguably the greatest authorities on guerrilla warfare in our time.  In 52 B.C, a certain group of Kishkumen assassinate the chief judge and place a man by the name of Gadianton in charge.  We don't know a whole lot about this Gadianton other than when he attempted to assassinate Helaman and his attempt failed due to the fact that  one of Helaman's servants was able to penetrate the rank and file of the Gadianton Robbers and was able to learn of the plot to assassinate Helaman.  Thus giving fare warning in time stop the "would be" assassination from taking place.  Of course it was this failed attempt that sent Gadianton and his robbers into flight to the wilderness (Helaman 2:11).  
Che Guevara

It is from the wilderness and mountains that the Gadiantons were able to set up shop and strategically plan their attacks in such a way that they would not only risk losing any of their limited amount of people but to also make it seem as if there were many more to their numbers than there actually were.  Guevara states, "having taken up inaccessible positions out of reach of the enemy ... ought to proceed to the gradual weakening of the enemy."  It is in the favor of those practicing guerrilla warfare to draw out the war as long as possible by making small raids and only when it can win.  This takes a mental toll on the opponent.  This is done by picking your battles, as Guevara notes, "the fundamental principle is that no battle, combat, or skirmish is to be fought unless it will be won,"  The numerical inferiority of the guerrilla makes it a necessity to only attack at the right time, especially when the guerrilla knows he can win.  This is made clear by Giap, "Is the enemy strong? One avoids him. Is he weak? One attacks him."  Those familiar with the history of the Gadianton robbers will know this is exactly what they did. 

The strategy of the guerrilla is not to gather land but just to weaken their enemy at this point.  This technique is practiced until the guerrilla has sufficiently weakened their enemy or have caused the enemy to bring the fight to them.  If the fight is brought to the mountains or wilderness (guerrilla territory) it then highly favors the guerrilla as has been seen in war against terrorism being fought in Afghanistan.  The fact it took 10 years to bring the demise of Osama Bin Laden should be enough evidence that these methods of guerrilla warfare work.  Although these methods can bring success, with that success there is a chance for over compensation and becoming over confident.  This is known as "premature regularization".  This is when the guerrilla's have successfully obtained wins on many fronts and are now faced with the possibility of fighting its enemy army head on and actually battling for land.  The guerrilla army has a chance of completely winning the military and political conflict at this point by making it a "regular battle" the problem is that if it hasn't sufficiently weakend the enemy it's chances in this "regual battle" are very slim....thus "premature regularization".   

Lachoneus and Gidgiddoni
As Dr. Peterson points out, quite possibley the best text book example of "premature regularization" occurs in the Book of Mormon when the Gadianton Robbers lead by Giddianhi in 3 Nephi write an epistle to the governer of the Nephites known as Lachoneus, commanding him to surrender completely to the Gadianton robbers or be visited with utter destruction.  Thus Lachoneus sent a proclimation among all the people declaring that they should gather themselves together in one spot.  He also appointed a chief captain of their military one who had the spirit of prophecy and revelation.  His name was Gidgiddoni and like Lachoneus he was a just man and a prophet of God.  He advised the people that going against the Gadiantons would lead to their utter destruction. Together with the help of the Lord  they devised a plan that litterally turned the tables. 

Their plan was to gather all the people together, it says they marched forth by the thousands and by tens of thousands until they were all gathered in one place which had been appointed to defend themselves agains their enemies.  They had gathered enough supplies to last seven years at this place of defense and then enacted a scortched earth policy that ruined the chance for any crops in the surrounding lands and territory. This plan was known as the "Proclaimation of Lachoneus". They litterally became the guerrilla and picked their opportune moments for battle and left the Gadiantons with little or no way to supply food to their armies.  The Gadianton army had prematurely regularized their robbers into a full blown military operation and it lead to their demise.

There is nothing grand or extravigant with this scene of continual warfare and bloodshed.  As pointed out by Dr. Peterson this goes beyond anything Joseph Smith would have been likely to create out of his own imagination.  This portrayal of warfare is completely foreign to Joseph and his environment while it makes complete sence when compared to the strategies used by those authorities on guerrilla warfare in our day.  While Joseph would not have been fond of battle he loved the parades and the military pageantry as he sat as the Lieutenant General of the Nauvoo Legion on his black stallion (named Charlie) surveying the blue and gold uniformed Legion.  I can only applaud Dr. Petersons wonderful comparison of modern day guerrilla warfare to that in the Book of Mormon by the Gadianton robbers and add my testimony to his that this portrayal of warfare was beyond Joseph's imagination or understanding and only goes to add more authenticity to the Book of Mormon in my eyes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hugh Nibley and the Sacred Hopi Stone Tablets

Old Oraibi
This post is out of the Neal A. Maxwell Institutes publication by Hugh Nibley entitled, "Promised Lands".  This is an exerpt directly from that
publication in regards to the times in which Hugh was honored to have been shown the sacred Hopi Stone Tablets.  This is a rare thing even for most Hopi let alone any Pahana (white people). Off of the top of my head I can only think of two other people that I know of who have seen them, one being Lance Richardson author of "The Message" and the other was an early LDS missionary who was a friend of Chief Tuba back in the early 1900's (1921 to be exact) named Elder C.L. Christianson.  Nibley also offers his thoughts on what they are and because I completely agree I will leave it at that and let the reading commence....enjoy I know I did.

One evening as it was getting dark I was passing by their (John and Mina Lansa) house, the northernmost
house in Old Oraibi, when Mina came out and beckoned me vigorously to come in. I wondered what I had done wrong, because new infringements of the whites were causing considerable tension. In the house the chief elders were seated all around the room. A small kitchen table and chair were in the middle of the room and a coal oil lamp was on the table. Mina told me to sit on the chair; then she went out of the room and soon returned with a bundle, something heavy wrapped in a blanket. She put it on the table and then unwrapped it. It was the holy tablet, the Hopi Stone, no less, the most sacred possession of the people. I knew what I was expected to do and started talking.

Anasazi Stone Tablets found at Mesa Verde
By an interesting coincidence I had spent the previous week in Cedar City with President William Palmer, a patriarch as well as stake president, who taught anthropology in the college there. He had been initiated into the Paiute tribe, and took me out to their sacred place in the plain southwest of Parowan. The building of the highway had put an end to the rites of initiation that once took place there, but President Palmer described the teachings and ordinances as far as was permitted. In particular he told the story of the descent of the Lord from heaven as if at that place, an event much like that described in 3 Nephi.

Tobats was the God of all Creation; his son Shinob was the peacemaker full of love and eternally young. One day the Evil One Un-nu-pit killed Shinob. At once a great darkness fell upon "Tu-weap," the whole earth. It was absolute blackness for three days. In this chaos and confusion everyone was groping around in howling and lamentation. Finally, a voice from the top of the mountain spoke; it was Tobats the Father. He told them to move about with outstretched arms, calling out to each other, and joining hands with whoever one touched. Thus they formed lines, and the lines were instructed to join with each other; people in the lines were to cry out for husbands and wives and children until all families had reformed. Then the noise ceased, and a voice told them to climb the mountain or mesa where Tobats was. They worked their way up the mountain, toiling in human chains and finally forming a huge circular formation on the top, with Tobats in the middle. Well, Tobats said he would shoot an arrow straight up (this is the well-known Indian and world-wide theme of the arrow chain to heaven). His arrow produced a tiny spark of light; but the second arrow brought light, which grew like an explosion until it flooded all the land. The blackbird and the flicker have been honored ever since because their feathers were used for the arrows—they are perpetual reminders of the great event. And thus the Indians typically reedit, according to the tribe and the land, those stories whose origin is lost in a distant past.

Hugh Nibley

There were many things on the Hopi Stone that are never shown in the sketchy reproductions of it, but the main items were the wanderings of the people and upheavals of nature, the arrow-chain to heaven and the light descending from the clouds. I started to explain things in terms of what I had learned from President Palmer a few days before. As I talked the elders began whispering among themselves with some animation. Suddenly Mina snatched the stone from the table, clutched it tightly, and said excitedly, "You are a smart man—but you don't know everything!" Was I on the right track? I suspect so, because some years later, in 1965, when I was wandering in the sad desolation of Oraibi, now emptier than ever, I was approached again with an invitation to come to the house and see the Hopi Stone again. When I got there, there was confusion and excitement; something had happened. We would have to call it off. Everyone was going to where the meeting of the Tribal Council had just been held. The Tribal Council was a creation of the BIA, compliant to the will of the powers of the East, whose authority the traditionalists had never recognized. They had just that day leased a tract of the sacred Black Mesa to the Peabody Coal Company. The company had generously offered to provide trailer houses for the entire tribe if they would move to Los Angeles. A more colossal culture gap could not be imagined.

Here it is necessary to speak of that strange passion for the land with which all Indians seem to be obsessed. This state of mind can best be explained by reference to the Book of Mormon. In his great sermon to the Nephites the Lord declares, "Behold, the covenant which I have made with my people is not all fulfilled" (3 Nephi 15:8). "And behold, this is the land of your inheritance; and the Father hath given it unto you" (3 Nephi 15:13). Again he tells them to "write these sayings after I am gone, . . . that these sayings which ye shall write shall be . . . manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in" (3 Nephi 16:4). We are to take note of what they have written, and it is this: "Verily, Verily, I say unto you, thus hath the Father hath commanded me—that I should give unto this people this land for their inheritance" (3 Nephi 16:16). The Hopi Stone, beautifully done on highly polished porphyr, is such a writing as the Nephites were ordered to make—a deed to the land. The Lord concludes with a final repetition: "And the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you this land, for your inheritance. . . . And if the Gentiles do not repent . . . after they have scattered my people, . . . the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day" (3 Nephi 20:14—15, 20).

What could be clearer? This land has been given to that particular branch of Israel as an inheritance for their children in perpetuity—it is their sacred obligation to hold it for their children; they cannot possibly sell it or allow it to be taken from them. That would be unthinkable, and that we never seem to understand.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Who were the Jaredites?

The Brother of Jared or Mahonri Moriancumur
I have been reading in the book of Ether lately and a long with that have been reading up on the Jaredites through miscellaneous articles.  A few that I have been particularly impressed with have been by Grant Hardy via Meridian Magazine and another was by David Stewart entitled "Jaredites: The First Americans".  The Jaredites fit in the Book of Mormon timeline roughly 1500 BC-400 BC.  This time period fits nicely with the Olmec civilization commonly known by their giant rock head sculptures found roughly in southern Mexico in the Vera Cruz and Tabasco area.  One question that usually comes to mind when looking at those giant headsculptures is, who were these people?  Who were the Olmecs?  Who were the Jaredites?

If the Jaredites were the Olmecs then what can we gather about the Olmecs that corresponds with what we know about the Jaredites?  First if we follow the lines that David Stewart put forth we will see that Carlos de Siguenza y Gongorra [1645-1700] gave us some interesting information about the original settlers of Mexico.  David suggests that he would have had access to ancient Aztec records that were later burned by "zealot Catholic padres" because they spoke of Christianity which was not known to Rome and therefore considered heretical.  Gongorra said that he "arrived at the curiously definite result that the original settlers were descended from Naphtuhim, son of Mizraim and grandson of Noah, who left Egypt for Mexico shortly after the confusion of tongues"
Naphtuhim is the plural form of "nephet" which means honeycomb.  It means the honeycomb people, or in other words, the beekeepers, or the people of Deseret.  In Ether 2:3 when speaking of the Jaredites preparations to go to "the promised land" it states,

Olmec Head

And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee: and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind.

Thus we see that both the Olmecs or original settlers of Mexico and the Jaredites were known as keepers of bees.  But lets take a further look at who the Naphtuhim where.  As descendents of Ham they were a mixture of Egyptian, Hittite, Phoenician, Libyan and other Hamitic tribes but were primarily Naphtuhim or honey raisers.  Josephus calls the Naphtuhim the Nedim.  He admits that nothing is known of these people except for the name, as their Old World cities were overthrown in the Ethiopic War during the times of Moses.  Also of note is that all Jaredite kings descended from the first pharoah of Egypt, called Menes by the historian Manetho and AHA in the heiroglyphs.  This name Aha is what Menes translates into from Greek.  Aha or Ahah is also the name of a Jaredite king. (Ether 11:10-11)

Stewart than goes on to point out that these Hamatic tribes or people were from North Africa.  As seen on the Olmec statues, they had broad, flat, Negroid noses, this lips and eyes closer to the horizontal with an epicanthic fold of the upper eyelid like many modern East Asians.  It would be through these linages that the ancient empires such as Cush came to their great status. So the question arises, how did these Jaredites or Olmecs gain the knowledge needed to become one of the greatest civilizations the world has "never" known?

Stewart points out that certain vocations were held in expertise in the ancient world, such as shipbuilding and sailing.  The Phoenicians and Egyptians were the experts in that catagory as well as glassmaking or glassworks.  The Hittites were the expert metallurgists during this time and bee keeping was extremely important as noted earlier to the Egyptians and the Ethopians, so much so that they would even pay their tribute in honey.  What do all these nations (Egypt, Phoenicia, the Hittites, and Ethiopia) have in common? They are all descended from Ham.  Stewart also points out that Ironworking, and glassworking expertise acutally go further back to Tubal Cain, "an instructor of every artificer in glass and iron" (Genesis 4:22).  Hebrew tradition as recorded in the Genesis Rabba midrash and eleventh century Jewish commentator Rashi maintains that Naamah, sister of Tubal-cain was taken by Noah as a second wife to preserve Cain's posterity, and that she became the mother of Ham.  All these expertises and knowledge being found among the Jaredites litteral descendents of Ham would not only follow ancient customs of the transmission of knowledge and techniques of trade but also answers the above question of, how did these Jaredites or Olmecs gain the knowledge needed to become one of the greatest civilizations the world has "never" known? This also explains the scripture in Ether 1:43 were the Lord states while speaking of the Jaredites,

And there will I bless thee and they seed, and raise up unto me of thy seed, and they who shall go with thee, a great nation. And there shall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed, upon all the face of the earth. 

So basically we end with a great Hamatic civilization in the Western Hemisphere (Southern Mexico and Guatemala) that originated in Africa.  This group was known as the Jaredites in the Book of Mormon or the Olmecs to the rest of the world.  They are of the lineage of Ham in the Bible and apparently mastered the many trades that were practiced by its brother and sister tribes.  The fact that they had acquired this knowledge along with being highly favored of the Lord (mainly due to the righteousness of the brother of Jared also known as Mahonri Moraincumur) allowed them the ability to avoid the confounding of tongues at the tower of Babel, also allowed them to be lead to the "promised land" by the hand of the Lord thus being assisted by many mighty miracles, and also be considered a "great nation" in the sight of God.  Of course many of these things apply to the Nephites and modern day America so needless to say much can be learned by looking and the growth and demise of these two great civilizations.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pueblo and Mayan art of "caching" provides insights into the People of Ammon burying their weapons of war

People of Ammon burying their weapons of war
There are a handful of stories in the Book of Mormon that the average reader can read and say these just don't seem to make much sense...or these just don't sound right.  Both Brant Gardner and John E. Clark authors on Book of Mormon evidences and geography have pointed out that these stories as outlandish as they may seem are the best to use as evidence for the books authenticity.  The reason being that when something is so out of place that there is no way that it could possibly fit or possibly be correct or true and then evidence shows that sure enough it is correct or understandable than you have little room for disputations in regards to that evidence.

This is just the case with the "people of Ammon" who in Alma 23-25 come to an understanding of their Savior and a knowledge of their wrong doings and bury their weapons of war as a token or covenant to never shed blood of mankind again and dedicate their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.  For such a blood thirsty war mongering people to do such a 180 degree turnaround may seem unheard of.  Especially to bury their weapons of war in order to covenant with their Lord that they have had this change of heart and will never take up their weapons to war matter the circumstances.  When this practice of burying their weapons of war is compared to the practice of "cache or caching" pottery performed by the Anasazi or their modern day counter parts the Hopi and other Pueblo tribes we can gain a better understanding into this exercise.

Anasazi Pottery Shards (cache)
The practice of "cache or caching" was to break or bury something upon the beginning or ending of something such as an event.  This would explain the burring of the weapons of war by the Anti Nephi Lehites better known as the people of Ammon.  This would explain why they couldn't just dig up their weapon of war once they were needed again.  They had actually destroyed them, thus rendering them useless.  This is still a common practice by the Pueblo Indians. These caches of partially buried pottery shards can still be seen at almost all Anasazi ruins including Mesa Verde, Canyonlands, Chaco Canyon, Keet Seel, Awatovi and numerous others.  In the history of the Hopi or Anasazi upon leaving a village they break lots of pottery and either bury it or spread it in the direction they will be migrating. This not only showed the next group of migrating tribes the direction that the previous tribe exited the premises but also caused the need for new pottery upon arriving at the new village plot, deterring the thought of returning to the previous village. The Mayans would cache pottery and other relics in the same manner.

Thus we see that something as out of place as a once blood thirsty people who buried their weapons of war upon making a covenant or promise to never go to war or shed the blood of mankind again actually is not out of place and makes complete sense when viewed with the understanding of caching or rendering something useless especially in helping to separate ones self from that item or what it represents.  This also made keeping the covenant that much easier to keep by eliminating the temptation of being able to dig up the weapon or item at a later date if need be.  To this day it is still a major offense and extremely looked down upon at ruin sites to take or mess with these pottery shards or cache due to the sacred nature involved in the practice of caching the pottery that was performed by their ancestors.